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United States v. Palacio

United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division

September 10, 2019




         Defendant Jason Reimundo Palacio is charged with three federal offenses: possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime, possession of a firearm by a felon, and possession with intent to distribute cocaine. (See Indictment, ECF No. 9.) The charges are based, in part, upon evidence that police seized while searching his residence pursuant to a search warrant. Palacio now moves to suppress that evidence. (See Mot. to Suppress, ECF No. 16.) He argues that the affidavit submitted in support of the warrant requested failed to establish probable cause. (See id.) For the reasons explained below, the motion is DENIED.


         On April 16, 2019, Michigan State Trooper Lucas Mickelson applied to Michigan's 67th District Court for a warrant to search a residence located at 2404 S. Dye Road in Flint Township (the “Residence”). (See Affidavit and Application for Search Warrant, ECF No. 16-2, PageID.51-55.) Mickelson submitted an affidavit in support of his request. (See id.) In the affidavit, Mickelson first stated that he had been a Michigan “peace officer” for three years, that he had roughly “two years of cumulative experience in controlled substance investigations, ” and that he had “received education in the identification of all types of controlled substances and the customs and habits of users and dealers of the same.” (Id. at ¶¶ 1-3, PageID.51.) Mickelson added that he was currently assigned to the Flint Area Narcotics Group (“FANG”). (Id. at ¶¶ 1, PageID.51.)

         Mickelson then said that he had probable cause to believe that evidence of drug dealing would be found at the Residence. (See Id. at ¶6, PageID.52.) Mickelson based his probable cause determination upon his “personal knowledge, on the personal knowledge of his fellow officers … and on the personal knowledge” of an unidentified confidential informant. (Id.) Mickelson expressed his “belie[f] that the [confidential informant] is credible and reliable for the reason that he/she has made other controlled purchases of controlled substances in the past, monitored by [Mickelson] and/or fellow officers, wherein the items of controlled substance sought to be purchased was successfully obtained and [the confidential informant] has never given [Mickelson] false or misleading information.” (Id. at ¶7, PageID.52.) Mickelson referred to the confidential informant as “XX.” (Id.)

         Mickelson next set forth the following facts that, in his opinion, established probable cause to search the Residence:

8. That information concerning the possession/sale and/or delivery of the above-referenced controlled substance was related to your affiant directly by XX; and that based on this information and the information about the informant specified supra paragraph 7, your affiant believes that said informant is a person who is credible and reliable. That your affiant desires to keep XX anonymous because anonymity has been requested, and because in my experience narcotics informants often become the victims of physical, social and emotional retribution when their identities are disclosed, and because it has been my experience that to reveal the identity of such person seriously impairs their utility to law enforcement, and has the additional impact of preventing other citizens from disclosing confidential information to law enforcement officers.
9. That on 03/25/19 your affiant and Tpr. Richter met XX at a prearranged meet location and a thorough search of his/her person was conducted and no drugs or contraband were found by affiant. Tpr. Richter then provided XX with a quantity of pre-recorded currency.
10. That your affiant states that XX also related that he/she has been sold suspected cocaine from a subject known as "JASON." XX advised that "JASON" lives at 2404 S Dye Rd. XX has bought cocaine from "JASON" numerous times before. A LEIN/SOS check was done on the residence, 2404 S Dye Rd. It was found that a male named JASON REIMUNDO PALACIO (W/M DOB: 04/24/1979) was attached to the address. A picture was shown to XX of PALACIO. XX confirmed that was the suspect who had sold him/her cocaine in the past.
11. That XX has knowledge that PALACIO is in possession of two assault style rifles and one AK style rifle inside his residence (2404 S Dye Rd).
12. A Criminal History Check was conducted on PALACIO. It was found that he is a convicted felon. PALACIO has a criminal history including crimes against persons, weapons charges as well as a delivery of narcotics charge. In 2003 Palacio pled guilty to felony OWI, in 2008 he pled guilty to assault and battery, in 2009 he was charged with delivery of controlled substance 50-499 grams and in 1996 he was charged with felony assault with a dangerous weapon.
13. That other FANG officers had set up surveillance on the residence herein described in paragraph 5 prior to XX meeting the suspect to purchase a quantity of cocaine. Ofc. VanBuskirk observed a pick-up truck exit the driveway of 2404 S Dye Rd. shortly after XX called the suspect and requested to meet. Officers conducted surveillance on the suspect vehicle until it arrived at a prearranged meet location to meet XX. The pick-up truck did not stop anywhere while on the way to meet XX. A white male was observed exiting the pick-up truck and entering XX's vehicle. After a short period of time the male exited the vehicle and left in his pick-up truck. The suspect was then followed directly back to his residence by officers.
14. XX arrived back at the prearranged meet location where he/she handed affiant a packaged white substance believed to be cocaine, and based on your affiant's training and experience it appeared to be an amount of cocaine that matched the amount of money given to XX.
15. That XX was again thoroughly searched by affiant and Tpr. Richter and was found not to have any other controlled substance and/or money on his/her person by affiant. Further, XX was kept under a continuous surveillance by your affiant and other FANG officers ...

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